28 July 2016

Review: A Changed Agent by Tracey J Lyons

Solid Plot but Writing Needs Work

William Benton is a Pinkerton agent charged with finding missing railroad bonds--but who also has recently taken responsibility for his orphaned niece and nephew, seven-year-old twins Minnie and Harry. He has no idea how he can do both, especially when his job often requires late nights and overnight trips. His boss suggests he hire help in the form of Elsie Mitchell, the violet-eyed schoolteacher in their small update New York town.

Elsie turns out to be perfect for the job except for the fact she keeps wanting him to go to church and objects to him hanging around the saloon. He can't explain it's for work--that would defeat the whole 'undercover' part of his job.

It's an interesting premise, and I would have liked to have seen more of Will's role as a Pinkerton agent. As it was, the focus of A Changed Agent was very much on the developing relationship between Elsie and Will, and Elsie's strange relationship with her ex-fiance. I liked the scenes with the children, and I especially liked the way the mute Minnie was able to learn to trust as the story progressed.

The ongoing issue with A Changed Agent wasn't the story or the characters, but the writing. The author has a habit of starting sentences with -ing words, which gives the writing a lyrical feel. Unfortunately, that isn't a good thing because while I'm flowing with the lyrical writing I'm not actually reading the words. I think that's because a lot of the writing is passive, which again takes me away from the characters and the action.

I try not to put my freelance editor hat on while reading, but ongoing glitches like this make it difficult because my subconscious says, 'hey! That sentence didn't make sense!'. When I read it for the second or third time, I realise why it didn't make sense, and that it's something the editor should have noticed and pointed out. Having said that, every 'self-editing for authors' book I've ever read points out the dangers of starting sentences with -ing words, and it wasn't the editor who wrote the novel.

Overall, A Changed Agent was somewhat predictable as a historical romance. It had good characters and a solid plot, but could have done with improved revision and editing.

Thanks to Waterfall Press (Amazon's Christian fiction imprint) and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Tracey J Lyons at her website.

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